comes with a health warning. This is the only page on this site where
the content is based not on my experience but on what I would plan to
do were I fighting an election campaign today. The Internet and its
wide range of online tools was simply not around when I was campaigning.
I wish it had been. So with that proviso, here we go.
is more than just an online collection of your leaflets.
It is your 24/7 accessibility to your electorate. The people who you
can't get to during your canvassing can at least see what you're up
to via your site.
never bought a web site before the URL (Unique Resouce Locator) is the
www.yoursite.org.uk bit. Your site name is very important as it has
to be memorable and has to relate to your campaign. A simple www.YourName.com
or www.KevinForMayor.org.uk should work best. Something like www.VoteForMe.com
simply does not enhance your brand as it is not personal enough.
to be aware that people cannot just choose any domain they like; it
may already be owned by someone else quite legitimately. Also commercial
organisations have to use to .com or in the UK the .co.uk domains as
the .org and .org.uk domains are restricted to non-commercial organisations.
Fortunately, this can include your campaign as although you can raise
funds through your web site you are not running it as a business. Search
Engines tend to favour .org sites over .com sites in their search returns
so if you have a particular URL in mind and the .org or .org.uk is available
I would recommend you use that over the .com or .co.uk but if you do
bear in mind its non-commercial status. Your could loose the site if
it is deemed to be a business.
picked your site name bought the rights to it and organised hosting,
all you need now if content, right? Not quite. When you were looking
for your site name you may have noticed that there was a lot of choice
about the domain it could be part of. I recommended using the .org or
.org.uk domain but you should not ignore the others. You should purchase
those domains which could be used to spoof yours. This is known as defensive
domain building. Basically if your opponents could use a domain with
a very similar name to yours they can use it for satirical purposes
and this is considered a legitimate use and there would be nothing you
could do about it. Consider if this is likely and if so purchase the
most likely domains that are available even if you aren't going to use
them yourself. You can always set up a simple re-direct to the one URL
you are using.
having a web site, the world and his brother has a web site these days,
but what is on it and what does it do for your campaign. The first things
is that it can act as a contact point for supporters so make such there
is a form on it so that people can leave you their name, address and
contact number. Secondly it can act as a way of telling people what
you are doing on a daily basis and where they can contact you in person,
a schedued diary or blog if you like. The other main use is as a resource
for your election material. Put your manifesto
on your site in an easily accessible format, put window posters on it
as well so that your supporters can print them off and put them up themselves.
tell people what you're doing, let them know how to join your campaign,
how they can help or contribute.
online social networking tools such as Facebook
and Twitter to keep in touch with
your supporters and to let them feel that they are not alone in supporting
you. These tools are becoming more popular and are very effective. A
FaceBook group for instance can mean you don't have to host a discussion
forum on your site and members can recruit other supporters for you
through their FaceBook friends. Twitter can keep people updated on the
progress of the campaign and can be used on Election Day to remind people
to vote in conjunction with your knocking up.
by organising people with a common interest together and allow for group
organisers, called 'Admins' to publish information about the Group and
also provide discussion spaces. Have a Group enables admins to email
every member of the group. You can see how this would be useful.
two types of FaceBook Group relevant to elections. One would be a Public
Group, where anyone can join and the content is viewable by non-members.
The other is a 'Private' Group where membership is controlled either
by invitation or by application.
context of an election campaign you may want to consider using both
types of groups.
Groups would be for organising general support, notifying people about
your campaign, publicising public meetings etc. All the activities that
generate support. Your Group name could mirror your web site name. Groups
can also hold files for the campaign including photos of events or campaign
graphics. One thing some campaigns do is produce medium sized graphics
for supporters to use as their FaceBook avatar in the run up to the
election, a simple 'I'm Voting Smith on the 5th.' or 'Bob for Bromsgrove'
seems to work well as these graphics sometimes appear very small. The
graphics appear across FaceBook when your support using them carry out
activities such as updating their status, even playing games can spread
the message across their FaceBook friends who can be up to 5,000 in
number, although most of those are likely to
live outside your constituency.
Groups would be for activists. These are people who are known to you
personally. I don't want to make people paranoid but your Public Group
is like to be joined by activists from other parties who just want to
keep an eye on what you're doing. If this happens take it as a compliment
as no one infiltrates a group they do not see as a threat. Having a
Private Group will enable you to set up discussions about tactics, canvassing
schedules, polling station rotas, concerns about how your campaign is
going; all the things you might not want to discuss in public.
of the campaign if hosted on say Blogger
can feed a FaceBook status update. A number of candidates from all parties
now blog regularly and it seems to be successful. Don't make it to Gung
Ho, make more of a insight into your thought processes, experiences,
hopes and fears for the electorate and don't give too much away as your
opponents will be watching. If your opponents blog, have a read now
and again at what they are saying.
recently been converted to using Twitter and it has proven itself to
be invaluable. As a way of sending out a quick update, possibly with
a link to a web page with more information to a lot of people who have
subscribed to your tweets it can't be beat. Your followers can then,
if they choose 're-Tweet' your tweet, meaning that it will appear in
the feed of their followers, who may not be your own, thus expanding
your audience. This can be both a positive and a negative to you campaign
as a recent candidate in a Town Council election found when he proudly
tweeted that he was going to win because his opponent had fewer followers
on Twitter. Twitter doesn't like arrogance, the tweet went viral and
his opponent had thousands of new followers within 24 hours. The acount
for her campaign was new, hence the low number of followers at that
time. He also went on to lose the election coming third, not only behind
the person whose small number of followers he had mocked but behind
another candidate whom he had said was just a 'paper candidate'.
methough, although it shouldn't have, was its usefullness as a networking
tool, linking people with similar interests, through shared connections.
Tweets can also contain linked graphics or video clips.
to tweets can become long threaded conversations. Choose carefully which
replies to engage wiith and which to ignore. Don't block people unless
you think they are just time-wasting trolls, someone with a genuine
criticiism of your position on an issue may have a point and may be
open to dialogue if you show you are open minded as well.
your opponents, if they don't block you just to see what they're up
to, but try to refrain from twitter battles.
have found is that once you build up more than just a few contacts with
shared interests Twitter becomes a news feed. During live events, and
these can be anything from a demonstration to an episode of the X Factor,
Twitter is more up to date than any of the news outlets. You can use
this up to the minute feature to your advantage during campaigns to
drum up support, organise events and report developments.
is an excellent report by Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian
on Twitter's strengths. It's written, as you would expect, from a journalists'
perspective, but this can be easily
applied to an election campaign.
out a tweet with a link whenever you post an entry on your blog causes
a spike in your page impressions and the main blog hosts have build
this into their formats to make it easy for you.
day of course regular tweets can be sent out to your followers reminding
them to vote. This should work in conjunction with your other Election
Day activities and not replace them.
Review have published a report 'How
Tweets Translate into Votes' which contains aninteresting quantification
of the effects of Tweeting.
the 2010 election the start of the social media boom for Electioneering?
of a new era? In the 2010 election digital media (Twitter,
etc..) was used not only by candidates but by the mainstream media (including
television) and the general public in scrutinising and responding to
the campaign. Digital methods were widely used with particular use by
the ‘wired’ generation (those who have grown up with smartphones,
iPads and unlimited access to Broadband) . Targeted emails, text messages,
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr,
Audioboo, microsites, iPhone apps,
viral campaigns, crowd-sourced adverts, and bloggers all featured. Did
they influence the campaigns or even the result? The overall answer
is probably NO, but they enlivened the debate and gave access to millions
regarding politics and campaigns at a level unheard of in recent history.
Did they influence voting intention? Again probably not, but it did
polarise the supporters of the various factions.
exciting thing was not the use of digital media in isolation - it was
how digital media became intertwined with more traditional streams.
This created an integrated media, more powerful in its entirety than
the individual parts.
Comments and trends from digital media fed newspaper and TV coverage,
creating story leads and follow-ups. TV interviews were repeatedly watched
online. The televised leaders’ debates spawned online digital
debates. Media streams interacted and blended.
saw many prospective parliamentary candidates, would-be councillors
and members of the mainstream media exploring digital media for the
first time. They discovered the power and the limitations it brings.
The well-aired concerns about using digital media are not unfounded,
but alongside limitations are opportunities. The demographics on sites
such as twitter are heavily weighted to those in the media and communications
sectors and in politics but this in itself makes them a useful tool
for influencing and accessing the mainstream media. Digital communication
offers the chance to reach out to younger people who are far less responsive
to traditional door drops – but increasingly to a wider group
Or part of the future.
digital and social media cannot reach every group, overcome every hurdle,
tackle apathy and restore faith in politics. Neither can any other media
stream. It will not always be the right medium for a specific message
or audience. But it does offer enormous opportunity. It is another weapon
in the communication arsenal. It can be used alongside other media to
introduce and reinforce messages, to engage citizens and reach out to
it will continue to be a powerful force and one that local government
will need to understand and use. Ignoring it is not an option, just
as it would seem absurd to rule out using other streams such as the
printed word or video. It would be a mistake to exclude digital and
elections taught us that although the web may not have won it for any
one party in its own right, it is now a real, growing and, most importantly,
trusted channel. To ignore its influence would be to miss important
conversations and opportunities to engage the electorate in political
The uses of social media Social media and its use as digital electioneering
was obvious to anyone with an eye to Saturday night television where
you could see the scheduled littered with programmes constantly asking
for online votes, polls, texts and contributions – where outcomes
are determined by the audience, not the organisers of the show.
time is always a good moment to pause and listen to the national conversation.
Not only were the ‘big tools’ like Twitter, Facebook and
YouTube being used by the parties to promote their big messages, but
hundreds of councillors are now using social media as a day-to day straightforward
communication tool. The elections have also seen the rise of citizen
activism – websites that have sprung up to run campaigns on their
One thing which should be seen as very important in ‘local politics’,
particularly for a ‘politics-averse’ town hall culture,
is how the political parties themselves are embracing social media.
Without doubt they can see the opportunity and advantage to ramping
up their presence and reach online. They are using the web and technology
to organise their local activists, to get supporters contributing time,
money and resources through online networking. They are also holding
debates and policy discussions on the web.
of all this is that national government is being influenced by many
people now who are arguing for open, transparent and, crucially, more
local approaches. Social media is one part of a much larger agenda including
how to create public spaces for people to come together, debate, contribute
and decide about issues collaboratively. This has to be in a way that
makes sense to people who are already using the web for their shopping
and socialising. This larger agenda of course goes also goes beyond
ensuring online connectivity. For politicians and councils to engage
with their communities – especially hard to reach groups where
strongly rooted but inaccurate perceptions can have damaging effects
– they need to be considering an underlying shift from communicating
to residents to conversing with them, both on and offline.
in not going down the social media/digital route is at best being left
behind, at worst to be bypassed all together by those who have embraced
the new era and from an electorate who have come to expect empowerment
is incomplete. I will add more but if you can think of anything let
me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
to Eve of Election....